Dead Sea scrolls – Qumran
Abram in the Promised Land
I. En Gedi
A. En Gedi is an oasis along the western side of the Dead Sea. It has a number of springs.
B. David, when Saul was pursuing him, took refuge in a cave in En Gedi. In I Samuel 24:1 – David and his men are hiding in the back of a cave – where herds were possibly sheltered in storms. Saul had 3000 chosen men looking for David when nature called. Saul went into the cave and “covered his feet” (KJV) and David’s men told him this was his opportunity to kill Saul. David rose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe. .He spared Saul. After Saul left, David called it to Saul’s attention that he spared him.
1. David does not take vengeance into his own hands. That belongs only to the Lord.
2. Ps 142 and 57 are two Psalms David wrote where the heading of the Psalm allows it to fit his fleeing and hiding in the cave at En Gedi.
3. David wrote other Psalms where the headings describe events in his life: 7, 59, 56, 34, 52, 63, 54, 22, and 18.
4. David also wrote other Psalms. Ps 27 and 37 sound like they came when he was in the cave of En Gedi.
C. 2 Chron 20:1-23 – Jehoshaphat is king in Judah. (He is a descendant of David who is a descendant of Ruth, the Moabite.)
1. The Moabites and Ammonites are coming to do battle with Jehoshaphat. They have crossed the Dead Sea and are at Engedi (23:2).
2. Jehoshaphat is hesitant to do battle with them. He reminds the Lord in his prayer that God did not allow Moses to invade the Moabites or Ammonites.
3. He asks now, what do we do? And God tells him that the battle is not yours but God’s (23:15). And you do not have to fight (vs 17). Take your stand and be still.
4. The next morning they go out in the wilderness of Tekoa and sing (23:21). The wilderness of Tekoa is in the vicinity of En Gedi. The Ammonites and Moabites do themselves in. (20:23).
5. TEKOA – (ROR 24 B) You will be traveling along the edge of the wilderness of Tekoa as you head to En Gedi.
a) The prophet Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa. (Amos 1:1) He calls himself a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees (7:14-15).
b) II Samuel 14:1 – When David is grieving over Absalom but does not know what to do Joab sends for a woman from Tekoa who brings a story to David with a wonderful message in vs. 14:14 – God devises means so that the banished one will not remain outcast.
6. The Wilderness of Ziph – along the west side of the Dead Sea between Jericho and En Gedi.
a) I Sam 23:15- David in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh being pursued by Saul. He and Jonathan make a covenant here. David hides in the strongholds here. Possibly one of the times he writes on of the Psalms mentioned above.
7. The Wilderness of Moan (Paran)
a) The Wilderness of Moan is south of the Wilderness of Ziph.
b) I Sam 25 – Saul has been rejected by God as king. David is the new king to be. Saul pursues David. I Sam 25 – Samuel is dead and David evidently goes to Ramah to bury him. Ramah is in Benjamin about 8 miles north of Jerusalem. From there he goes to the Wilderness of Paran (Moan) (I Sam 25:1-2) Carmel (not the mount you visited earlier) in this verse refers to a city south of Hebron and Ziph. (GEO 18) Nabal, (his name means “fool”) “a churlish and ill-behaved” man disrespects David. Abigail, Nabal’s wife intercedes on her foolish husband’s behalf and David spares him. Nabal soon dies and David woos and marries Abigail. He gets another wife too.
8. It is interesting when David is in the Wilderness of Ziph and the Wilderness of Moan he goes to “the stronghold”. (I Sam 24:22; 23:14; 25:5; I Chron 12:8; also 37:39; 144:2 …) the word for “stronghold” is mesad” (BDB p.844 4679). The stronghold at times is clearly at En Gedi. Masada and En Gedi make good verbal pictures for the Psalms.
A. Masada is a fortress (stronghold) with a palace built by Herod the Great in 30 BC. It is located along the Dead Sea on top of a mountain. It is an architectural and engineering marvel.
B. 66 AD civil unrest begins in Jerusalem and they divide into 7 districts and set up generals in each. In 67, Nero sends his general Vespasian in to settle things down in the north. He brings his son, Titus and 60,000 men. In 68 Vespasian attacks the Essene community at Qumran. In that same year, Nero commits suicide and things come to a stand still until 69 AD when Vespasian returns. He gives the task of taking Jerusalem to his son, Titus. And Vespasian is made emperor in 69. In 70 AD Titus takes Jerusalem and destroys the city and the Temple. He killed thousands – many simply for entertainment. He sent thousands more to Egypt as slaves.
C. The rebellion continued for another 3 years until 73 AD. In 68 AD Jewish zealots took Masada as their stronghold. In 72 the Romans attacked Masada by making a huge earthen ramp up its desert side. In 73, 960 Jews chose to die rather fall into the hands of the Romans.
D. It is a sight to see and experience. Listen as your guide tells the moving story.
E. It may have been possible in David’s day to cross the Dead Sea from Masada and go into Moab. David may have done that when he took his mother and father from Israel to Moab. (I Sam 22:3-5). Or he could have taken them along the Dead Sea south and then north to Moab.
III. Dead Sea Scrolls – Qumran
A. The limestone cliffs near the Dead Sea are dotted with caves. The story is that two Bedouin were looking for sheep and threw a rock into one of the caves to drive out the sheep. Instead of the sheep coming out they heard the breaking of pottery. When they went in they discovered in that pottery some ancient scrolls.
1. More than 200 manuscripts were discovered in the caves of Qumran. Every OT book except for Esther and the Song of Solomon were found there.
2. Before the discovery of the DSS the oldest manuscript we had of the Hebrew Bible was from the 10th century AD.
3. The Greek translation (the Septuagint – LXX) of the OT Hebrew has some earlier dates – these are from the 4th and 5th century AD.
4. Qumran brought us texts of the OT from the time of Christ
5. These texts help us get a more accurate reading of the OT.
IV. Abram (Abraham) in the Promised Land – Genesis 11:27-25
- From Ur of Chaldea to Haran (Gen 11:31f)
1. Ur is located on the EuphratesRiver near what is now the Persian Gulf.
2. Abraham’s father, Terah, moved the family to Haran, a journey of about 600 miles. They would have traveled up the EuphratesRiver.
3. Haran was in Paddan Aram, an Aramean kingdom. Abram is called a “wandering Aramean” (Dt 26:5). Isaac’s wife Rebekah is an Aramean (Gen 25:20).
4. When Abram’s father, Terah, dies the LORD calls Abram and tells him to leave and go to the land I will show you.
- Abraham from Haran to Canaan (The Promised Land)
1. Abram takes his wife, Sarai (Sarah) and nephew Lot and leaves Haran and arrives in Shechem (Gen 12:6).
a. Ex 13:19 – Moses takes the bones of Joseph with him out of Egypt. See too Gen 50:25
b. Josh 24:32 – Joshua buries Joseph’s bones in Shechem. (You will remember this is the second place Jacob lived after crossing back over the Jordan. Succoth and then Shechem – Gen 33:18-19)
2. From Shechem to a mountain between Bethel and Ai. (Gen 12:8). He pitched his tent.
3. From there to the Negev(12:9) – The Negev is a desert area in the south that accounts for over half of Israel’s land mass. It does not get much rain, so wells were important.
- Abraham from the Negev to Egypt
1. A famine strikes and Abram moves the family to Egypt. (12:10)
2. 13:1 – back to the Negev
- Abram and Lot – near Bethel and Ai
1. Gen 13:3 – back to the mountain area near Bethel – where his herdsmen and Lot’s would soon run into conflict.
2. Gen 13:10 – Lot choses the JordanValley towards Zoar and moves to the South end of the Dead Sea to Sodom. 13:13.
3. The Lord promises Abram the land – north, south, east and west of where he was. Abram moves south to Hebron, near the oaks of Mamre. (13:18)
- Abram and the war with the kings when Lot is captured (14)
1. Abram is in Hebron when he hears Lot has been taken captive (14:13).
a. The Valley of Siddim is in the area and if full of tar pits and some of the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah fall into them. Gen 14:3,10.
b. Eschol, an ally of Abram goes with Abram to fight and bring Lot back. 14:13,24. The Valley of Eschol is where the spies picked the grapes…(see below). Abram was living where the land was productive.
2. Abram gets his men together and travels most likely through the hill country, past Bethel, Shechem, Bethshan, around the Sea of Galilee, through Hazor, to Dan. He wins the battle and returns home with Lot.
a. The kings Abram went after probably traveled through Transjordan from Shinar (Babylon – Gen 11:2) along the Transjordan Highway and cut over to Dan where Abram caught up with them.
b. Abram meets Melchizedek – Gen 14:17 – at the Valley of Shaveh (the King’s Valley) and Melchizedek, king of Salem meets him with bread and wine.
c. The King’s Valley is a valley around Jerusalem (2 Sam 18:18) and Salem is “Jerusalem” (Ps 76:2)
- Abram presumably returns to Hebron.
- He is in the land 10 years (16:3) and Sara gives him Hagar who becomes pregnant.
- Sarai drives pregnant Hagar away and the LORD finds her near Kadesh and Bered (south in the Negev)
- Gen 17 – God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and gives him the sign of the covenant – circumcision and the promise of a child to him and Sarah.
- Abram and the three men
1. Gen 18:1 – Abram is by the oaks of Mamre – which is in Hebron (Gen 13:18).
a. He is told Sarah will have a son – she laughs
b. The men leave and head toward Sodom when they tell Abraham that God is going to destroy it.
c. Abraham intercedes for the city.
d. Lot ends up living in a cave in the hill country (down south) and bears children with his daughters – the Moabites and Ammonites come from these offspring. (19:37)
2. HEBRONis south of Bethlehem.
a. Numbers 13:22 – the 12 spies are sent out and they go into the Negev and then to Hebron and the Valley of Eschol (near Hebron – Num 32:9 and Dt 1:24) where they pick a cluster of grapes, some pomegranates, and figs.
b. Josh 14:6-15 – Caleb at age 85 is given Hebron(vs 13). Note who used to live here! It is the city (Arba) where the greatest among the Anakim once lived. The 10 non-trusting spies feared the Anakim. Num 13:28. Joshua and Caleb did not. At 85 yrs old Caleb says I want where the greatest of the Anakim once lived to be my place! And he drives out Anakim when he gets there -Josh 15:13-15.
c. Josh 15:16-19 (Judges 1:15)– Caleb says he will give his daughter to anyone who takes Debir (GEO 6). Othniel, Caleb’s nephew took it. Caleb gave him his daughter and she tells her husband to ask Caleb for a field, evidently he does not so she gets off her donkey and tells her Dad – you put me in the desert – give me some land with water. And he does. Hebron had decent rain, good fertile land, and places to graze herds. Caleb’s daughter therefore knew how important that was.
d. Josh 20:7 – Hebron was a city of refuge – a place where someone who killed someone by accident could flee.
e. Josh 20:11 – Hebron was given to the Kohathites. Samuel was a Kohathite and his grandson Heman was a singer who sang in the house of the Lord – I Chron 6:31-33.
f. Judges 16:1-3 – Samson takes the gates off of the city of Gaza and hauls them to the top of the hill before Hebron, which is a high hill.
g. Ammon, David’s first son was born to him in Hebron. 5 others were born to him in Hebron (I Chron 3:1-9).
h. 2 Sam 2:1-5 – Saul dies and David asks the Lord which city he should go to. The Lord answers Hebron. And he takes his two wives.
i. 2 Sam 5:1-5 – Hebron is where the tribes of Israel found David and make him king of Israel
j. David’s first order of business was to capture Jerusalem on Mt.Zion and move from Hebron to Jerusalem. This move put David in a more central location than Hebron. It also put the Philistines on notice that Israel has a new king (2 Sam 5:17) but David defeats them and subdues them.
k. Absalom’s revolt against his father (2 Sam 15:1-12) began when he persuaded his father to let him go to Hebron. When he gets there he sends messengers out who proclaim him king. David then flees Jerusalem.
l. Micah, the prophet, was from Moresheth – a town along the coastal highway near Gath about 30 miles from Jerusalem. He was quite familiar with the landscape – the mountains and valleys of southern Judah. He refers to it quite often in his book: Micah 4:1 – “In the latter days the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains and shall be raised above the hills.” At this time Jerusalem was on a much lower ridge than the mountains in the Hebron range. Hebron is 3050 feet above sea level. Jerusalem is 2474 feet above sea level.
- Abram leaves Hebron and goes south into the Negev
1. Abraham goes to live in Gerar – between Kadesh and Shur. (20:1) – incident with Abimelech and Sarah.
2. Isaac is born. (21)
3. Ishmael is sent away into the wilderness of Beersheba (21:14)
4. God takes note of Ishmael and Hagar and they live in the wilderness of Paran.
- Abraham and Abimelech’s men have trouble regarding a well that Abraham dug in Beersheba, a city in the Negev. They make a covenant of peace and Abraham plants a tamarisk tree (21:33) and calls on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.
1. Beersheba means “well (Beer) of seven (sheba)” – the seven lambs in the covenant Abram made with Abimelech. – Gen 21:27-31
2. Beersheba is located at the junction of two major ancient highways – The Coastal Highway which runs from Egypt through the Plain of Sharon, and the King’s Highway (Num 20:17, 21:22) which runs from Damascus in the north through Transjordan and then branches over to Beersheba.
- God calls Abraham to sacrifice Isaac
1. Abraham takes Isaac from Beersheba and heads to Mt.Moriah (Gen 22). Mt. Moriah is where the temple will later be built in Jerusalem (2 Chron 3:1); and it is also the threshing floor of Ornan, which David buys in order to have a place for the Temple of the Lord. (2 Chron 21:18-22:1).
2. The angel stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and God provides a ram. And Abraham says “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.” 22:14.
3. Abraham returns to Beersheba (Gen 22:19)
a. Beersheba is most often used in the Scripture in the phrase “Dan to Beersheba”. That is a distance of about 144 miles.
b. I Kings 19:3 – Elijah, after he kills the prophets of Baal on Mt.Carmel flees in fear to Beersheba when Jezebel threatens his life. From there he goes south and west to Mt.Horeb (19:8), the mount of God – also where Moses experienced the burning bush (Ex 3:1-3).
c. II Kings 12:1 – Joash becomes king in Judah and his mother’s name was Zibiah and she was from Beersheba. Her name means “gazelle” – a understandable name for someone born in this mountain area.
- Sarah dies in Hebron– Gen 23:1 – Abraham buys a cave in Mach-pelah, east of Hebron (23:17) and buries Sarah.
- Abraham sends his servant back to Haran to find a wife for Isaac.
- Abraham dies and is buried in the cave of Mach-pelah by Isaac and Ishmael. Gen 25:9.
a. Isaac and Rebekah are buried at the cave of Mach-pelah– Gen 49:30-31
b. Jacob and Leah are later buried here – Gen 50:13. (Incidentally, Rachel the wife Jacob loved, died and was buried on the road to Ephrath which is BETHLEHEM when Benjamin, her last son was born – Gen 35:19; Gen 48:7; Jacob set up a tomb for her there. And that is the traditional site for Rachel’s burial site.
1) However, Jacob was leaving Bethel (in Benjamin territory) on the way to Bethlehem. The text says “on the way to Ephrath” (35:19) and “when there was still some distance to go” (48:7).
2) Later I Sam 10:2 and Jer 31:17 – have Rachel’s tomb in Ramah. Which is south of Bethel in on the road to Bethlehem but in Benjamin territory.
3) Mathew (2:17) quotes Jer 31:17 – in the Christmas story when Herod kills the children. – a voice is heard in Ramah, Rachel weeping for her children. She weeps because they are exiled. This corresponds to the children of Bethlehem being killed and the baby Jesus leaving Israel for Egypt.
c. Ruth 1:19, 4:11 – Ruth and Naomi return from Moab to Bethlehem
d. I Sam 16:1 – David is a shepherd from Bethlehem, a city of Judah.
e. Micah and Bethlehem – 5:2 – in the OT quote Bethlehem is “little among the clans of Judah”. Matthew (2:6) in quoting the passage changes the quote – Bethlehem, with the birth of Christ is “by no means least among the rules of Judah”. Christ comes and changes little Bethlehem into something greater.
f. In the NT Bethlehem is where the shepherds go to see Jesus – Lk 2:15. It is where the wise men are told to go to find him – Mt 2:6. And it is where Herod kills all the male children under 2 years of age – Mt. 2:16.